Congressman Chet Edwards reportedly broke all land-based speed records getting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on the phone.
Edwards was among several Democrats promoted in a controversial DCCC online video. Among other disquieting images questioning American policies, it featured caskets returning home from Iraq.
Calling the casket shots "offensive," Edwards demanded that the video go away. It did.
Edwards' Republican challenger, Van Taylor, an Iraq veteran, called the political use of such images "far beyond the pale."
In this week's Time magazine, essayist James Poniewozik differs with both. He writes that using the coffin image for political purposes is as fair as, say, using 9/11's ruins in a party ad or staging photo ops on aircraft carriers.
And anyway, he writes, "You can't politicize a war, because wars are political to begin with."
Casket shots, which the Pentagon has barred, have become a point of contention in this war. Relative thereto, we hear a curious but revealing assertion: These photos, these human losses, are a private matter.
In due respect to the grieving, that's wrong.
The men and women fighting and dying in Iraq are proxies for us. The flags on the coffins represent us. The planes, the guns, the bombs, the coffins, all are purchased by us.
If that sounds too much like a transaction, well ... Americans alarmingly are coming to believe that government isn't something we do. It's something we contract out.
That applies to war now. We can invade countries and not expect to sacrifice, or to know the wrenching details. That's what having an all-volunteer fighting force is about.
We can wage war without being truly, deeply and beyond any question vested as a nation in the essential nature of waging it. We can wage it without being confident that diplomacy has been exhausted and facts vetted.
Some, including U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., have called for reinstating the draft so that the sacrifice can be spread more evenly.
As it is, why not base a large-scale mission say, ousting a heinous dictator on having enough volunteers and firepower to do it? We're seeing why not.
Citing the public's displacement from the stakes of such warfare is not my way of saying, "Reinstate the draft." Our nation can defend itself without a draft. It can't remake the Middle East without a draft. It can't remake North Korea or Iran. But maybe by now we are coming to understand the limits of what even the world's only superpower can do.
Surely I'm not the only observer who, since the invasion of Iraq, blinks anymore at the term Department of Defense. If we called it the Department of Offense, as neoconservatives wish for the Pentagon, would we give it the blank check we do now?
Or would we insist that the contractors of war itemize expenses, justify all travel and give less power to cabals and schemers?
If you'll notice, I'm treating it like a business, which government isn't, and mustn't be. It is us. It is a communal exercise. Whatever government does, we are doing.
That includes shipping men and women to battle and shipping their bodies home.
Copyright 2006, Daily Camera and Boulder Publishing, LLC.